Government funding cutbacks have left some school boards strapped for cash. Unfortunately, when budgets are gone, so are vital school programs like extra-curricular activities. It’s a fact of life that could leave you worrying whether your child is getting enough activity outside of school hours.
After school programs do not necessarily have to be taught by professional teachers in a school environment. There are so many ways that parents can take up where school boards have left off. Don’t worry about structure or formality; most kids are over-scheduled as it is. The key is to enhance your child’s physical, academic and social development, and a relaxed home-based environment is a perfect place to do it.
School should be a top priority for every child and every parent. Children need to attend school regularly and then fulfill their homework, reading and writing obligations. This may take about 30-60 minutes. After these obligations are met, it’s a fun time. The trick is to find interesting and fulfilling programs or activities for your child to take part in, whether inside or outside the home.
If your child develops certain academic, physical or artistic preferences and interests, try to find a program in a college or a community center that’s interesting, helpful and encouraging. Piano instruction, athletic teams or even pottery lessons can offer fun and enrichment to your child.
The Internet is a wonderful resource of good information. Encourage your child to search online and learn more about the things he or she enjoys. Whether it’s a love of animals or an interest in space exploration, children can research independently and gain more knowledge than any formal after-school programs could offer.
If you are concerned that your child needs more peer interaction, look for groups or clubs. Active kids do well with scouting or 4-H clubs. Reading clubs are another possibility. Take your child to visit the public library or local theater. Parent-child book clubs are also interesting options. Ask around to see if like-minded parents and their children are interested in starting a community after-school reading program.
After-school programs can be expensive, and additional academics can often overwhelm children. If your child is not interested in academics, sports or music, turn to your community. Children of all ages love to help in any way they can, and every community is in need of volunteers. Take your child to join in community clean-up projects, to help out at a homeless shelter, or visit the elderly. Choose activities that are suitable to the age and emotional level of your child. He or she can gain invaluable experience and learn lessons they’d never receive in a conventional classroom.
Childhood obesity is a plague to North American children. If a lack of physical activity presents a problem in your household, it would be wise to enroll your child in a group sport. Baseball, soccer, hockey, dance lessons, gymnastics.. there are countless fun ways for your child to get fit. Better yet, have your child choose an activity that you can enjoy together, such as swimming, cycling or tennis. Join the local Y and attend a family gym. Or just go to the park and play a game of tag. You’ll both feel better for it.
Your child does not necessarily have to be a part of an organized group, or be under an instructor’s watch, to benefit from after-school activities. There are many ways to keep a child physically, mentally and emotionally active, even after the school bell rings. Having fun and learning after school can be as simple as helping Dad make dinner, or giving Mom a hand in the garden. Involving the kids in daily activities can provide them with a refreshing extracurricular experience, and improve your family ties.